MORE than 18,000 vulnerable children and young people have turned to the Children’s Society for help in the past year; 674 of them were refugees or asylum-seekers, the charity has reported.
Its campaigning has also contributed to more than 5.6 million “positive changes” in the lives of young people, including those affected by sexual exploitation, mental-health problems, or substance misuse; also missing persons, or those in or leaving care, it said.
The Children’s Society’s latest report The Difference We Made, published on Wednesday, states that these changes have increased by 311 per cent on the previous year. It also states that 69 per cent of families who worked with the charity in 2015 experienced “positive improvements across key areas of their lives”, including education and finances.
Churches were listed as a key supporter; 7727 were involved in campaigns and fund-raising last year. The charity also reported that its work with senior church leaders had resulted in more than 64 courses of action being taken.
A total of 49,541 actions had been taken as a result of its campaigning, the report stated, and its work with 34 councils across the UK had resulted in 27 national and regional policy changes. This included tackling debt, the cost of school uniforms, fuel poverty, and support for children in care, besides issues relating to young refugees or asylum-seekers, including discrimination, housing, and benefits.
The highest number of policy changes (22) affecting young people were made in the Midlands, the report stated, although the charity had the biggest impact in the north of the country, where it helped 8839 children and vulnerable people, compared with 1649 in London and the east.
But the report stated that it had fallen short in some areas. Although it worked with more than 5000 young people concerning substance misuse, mental health, care, and missing persons, this was 3000 short of its target. The charity had also missed its aim to increase new supporters and donors by 80,000.
It did, however, increase its volunteer base by nine per cent, and recorded a slight increase in net income from donations and legacies — from £16.5 million to £16.7 million last year.
Its chief executive, Matthew Reed, said: “Many of our services are now working with young people who are experiencing some of the most complex problems we see in society; despite the challenges of this work, I am encouraged that we are consistently delivering positive outcomes, which is good news for these young people and for wider society.”
Mr Reed thanked supporters of the charity, campaigners, fund-raisers, and volunteers, and the “incredible” children and young people. “Their stories of resilience and tenacity continue to inspire all of us,” he said.